The Tyndall Accordion Club has been bringing live music and smiles to musicians and audiences alike since at least the 1970s.
The group is set to return again this year to the Oktoberfest at Yankton’s Cramer-Kenyon Heritage Home at 509 Pine St., on Saturday Sept. 21, from 4-7 p.m. in the gazebo outdoors. Oktoberfest food and drink offerings will be available to attendees.
“The accordion club started with 11 guys gathering at a place called the Bull Shed in Tyndall,” said Leroy Holman, the lead accordion player and the group’s leader for the last decade. “They got together and they played button accordions and there were a couple that played regular accordions. They just started having fun and they’ve been sharing music ever since.”
The group still has one of the original members from the Bull Shed, but it brings in people of several generations together to play, he said.
“We’ve got players of all different (skill levels),” Holman said. “Some people are at retirement age and headed into the retirement years of playing, but we encourage the young to the old. I think our oldest player is 89 years old and our youngest person is 14.”
Two main types of accordion include the button accordion, which has buttons to create chords, and the piano accordion, which uses keys to make chords.
“It started out as a button accordion club with a few piano accordion players, and now it’s grown and we have different kinds of instruments — not just strictly accordions,” Holman said. “We have brass instruments and woodwind instruments with us; sometimes guitars and banjos; and we just get together and promote old-time music and play a variety of polkas and waltzes. We do a little big band music along the way.”
Originally, the club had a repertoire of about 20 songs that members could play together, but over the years, that number grew to over 150 songs, and members are still open to trying new things, he said.
“We are always looking for something new, always looking for more recruits and people we can encourage to play music,” Holman said. “We are focused on old-style music, but that doesn’t mean that somebody won’t sometimes have something a little bit newer that they want to try out to see if anybody’s heard it, to see if we can play it together.”
Holman, who joined the group about 15 years ago, plays piano accordion. His wife plays banjo, and his son and daughter play the saxophone, and baritone and brass instruments respectively.
“We are all in the club and we have our own family band, but this is when we get to bring our friends along,” Holman said.
Accordion club friends include 23 musician families typically invited to play and 150 guest invitations sent out to regular attendees, who are charged with spreading the word about the club’s concerts.
“Not everybody ever gets there at the same time, but if it’s the Tyndall club, you can be sure that I am always there,” Holman said. “It goes without saying, that, when you see the Tyndall Accordion Club, it’s going to be the most accordions that you’ve ever seen play together. It’s rare to see more than two or three play together at one time, but it’s pretty common for us to have five or six play together, sometimes more.”
The group has been recognized for its role in raising money for charities, he said. The most recent event was in July and raised $43,000 to repair flood-damaged roads in various Nebraska counties.
The group also enjoys playing historic venues and is looking forward to playing at the Cramer-Kenyon Heritage Home again this year.
“Last year, the food was good, the beers were good and evidently everybody had fun, because we are going to do it again,” he said.
For ticket information, visit the Cramer-Kenyon Heritage Home’s Facebook page.
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